Firefighters’ donation enables community to purchase AED

May 8, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

The popular pool in the Maple Hills community received a piece of lifesaving equipment from local firefighters, just in time for the summer swimming season.

Maple Hills community leaders received about $400 from a nonprofit firefighters group to purchase a long-awaited automated external defibrillator, a portable device designed to use electrical therapy to treat people suffering from cardiac arrest.

“We had just been looking to our community, and we were able to raise most of the money, but not all of it,” longtime Maple Hills resident Susie Smith said. “I just thought that was a really nice gesture for them to step up and help us out with the rest of it.”

Firefighters formed the nonprofit Eastside Firefighters Benevolent Fund last year to give back to local communities through financial and in-kind donations. The organization received a startup donation from family of late EFR Volunteer Battalion Chief John Waltosz.

The funds to purchase the AED marked the group’s initial donation.

“We’re looking for opportunities out there to try and make lives better for people in our community,” said Dave McDaniel, a director in the organization and a battalion chief for Eastside Fire & Rescue.

Maple Hills residents spent months raising funds for a defibrillator to keep at the pool for emergencies.

The community hosted a Polar Bear Swim in January and, as residents dipped into the near-freezing water, a firefighter at the event noticed the collection container.

“He said, ‘We just started this benevolent fund and we’d really like to help you out,’” Smith recalled.

So, she made a request in a letter to the organization.

“They said that they would love to help us out, and they were able, through the benevolent fund, to give us the remainder of money that we still had not raised,” Smith said.

The next step is for Maple Hills residents to receive training to use the AED.

“We didn’t reinvent the wheel,” McDaniel said. “A lot of fire department unions have benevolent funds or foundations. They’re all set up for kind of the same thing. They’re there to help people in need, either within the department or people within the community.”

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or Comment at

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